Warning: The following contains spoilers for the fifth episode of Westworld.
Westworld is a complicated and intricate show that inspires new theories about its possibilities week after week. One of the biggest questions circulating online and among TV viewers concerns Arnold, the co-creator of the dystopian theme park and a man who died within the confines of the world.
In the newest episode, we finally get some much needed clues about what happened to Arnold and how his presence is still influencing what’s happening in the theme park. The biggest revelation is that Dolores, the first bot created by Ford and his dead co-creator, is having conversations with Arthur that no one knows about.
During a scene between Ford and Dolores, the host tells Ford that she hasn’t had a conversation with Arnold since the day she died. She’s lying to the man who created her, and if Ford was worried about Arnold before, he certainly has a right to be even more concerned about his influence in Westworld now.
It’s when Ford steps away from Dolores, however, that the most revealing piece of the Arnold puzzle is revealed. Dolores, seemingly speaking to Arnold in her head, tells him that she didn’t tell Ford anything about what the dead — who may not actually be dead, according to some theorists — co-creator’s true plans are. Dolores is a crafty host and it becomes clear in this most recent episode that her loyalties are to Arnold. As the host tries to learn more about The Maze and who she is while "awake" in Westworld, it would appear she has more control over her thoughts than previously thought while dreaming in the lab.
Here’s where it gets a little murky. If we’re to take Dolores at her word, then despite telling Ford that Arnold wants to destroy the park, that may be the complete opposite of what the co-creator wants to do. Dolores confides to the voice in her head that she didn’t tell Ford anything, but that seemed to be a pretty revealing moment for the Westworld designer. Was she lying to Ford about Arnold’s true intentions? It seems to be the takeaway from the scene, but she could have also just been exaggerating Arnold’s true intentions.
Dolores’ take on Arnold and the revelations she provides are important, but so are Ford and the Man in Black’s take on the co-creator. It seems like more people know about Arnold than Ford would have liked, but what they know about the illusive man is incredibly important to the development of the story.
According to Ford, Arnold went absolutely mad, obsessed with the potential his hosts had to be more than what they were designed to do. He ultimately committed suicide during his period of mania, I imagine distraught with not being able to accomplish what he wanted.
Of course, this is Ford’s story. As many have pointed out online, there are theories that Ford killed Arnold to have total control of Westworld. We still don’t know what Ford’s final plans for the park are, but based on everything we know so far, it seems like he and Arnold had different opinions on what was next for the hosts and Westworld. Ford may paint Arnold as the crazed inventor who ended up taking his own life, but there are valid questions over whether Ford played a big part in Arnold’s death.
Then there’s what the Man in Black knows. He knows that Arnold allegedly killed himself in the park — which led to the plethora of theories about Arnold being at the center of The Maze — and seems to have first-hand knowledge of the events surrounding the death. That could partially explain why Ford seems to have a different relationship with him than he does the other guests, and why he keeps a closer eye on what the Man in Black is doing while inside Westworld.
Here’s the thing: despite the clues we got this episode, and we did get more clues than we have previously, we still don’t know much about Arnold. For example, if Arnold was indeed human, then how did he die inside the park when humans seemingly can't actually die? Does that mean that Arnold isn't human?
As the season continues, it seems like Arnold is going to be one of the most important pieces to figuring out just what’s happening inside Westworld, but the jigsaw puzzle is still missing a few key pieces. We can kind of see the outlines of the image we’re trying to create, but there are still too many possibilities to say for certain.
We do know we’re halfway through the first season, however, and that means that it’s only going to escalate from here. The theories are going to become more bizarre, the characters are going to reveal a bit more and it looks like the hosts are getting ready to begin their uprising. Maybe. Or maybe that’s just my hope.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. For a detailed recap, check out Polygon's discussion of the episode below.